Select Dodd Surname Genealogy

The medieval personal name Dodde or Dudde, in frequent use until the 14th century, was the source of the Dodd surname.  The name may come from a Germanic root used to describe something round and lumpish - hence a short, plump man.  It appeared early, before the Norman conquest.  Aelfweard Dudd was recorded in the early charters of Hampshire around 1030.  

Dodd and Dodds are the main surname variants.  Dodd is more numerous today.

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Select Dodd Ancestry

England.  The surnames Dodd and Dodds have somewhat different geographic origins.

NE EnglandDodds was an English border name.  Seventy percent of the Dodds in England in the 1891 census in England were to be found in the two counties of Northumberland and Durham.

Dodds in its history has been primarily associated with Northumberland.  The Dodds of Northumberland were one of the four major Border clans of North Tynedale.  Burbank Peel, a fortified tower on the Tarset Burn near Bellingham, was their ancestral home.  Documentary evidence shows the Dodds had already established themselves in that area by the end of the 14th century.  Later the name extended south to Durham and north across the border into Scotland.

NW England.  The surname Dod or Dodd, dating back to the 12th century, was first found at Edge near Shropshire and Cheshire on the border with Wales.  The Rev. John Dod of Shotwich in Cheshire was a popular preacher, someone born in 1549 who lived on to witness the Civil War.  Since that time this Dodd name has radiated outwards, north into Lancashire, south into Staffordshire, west into Wales, and also further afield.

Elsewhere.  One Dodd family traces itself back to William Dodd, a tavern owner in London during the Restoration period.  A century or so later there lived in London Robert Dodd, a painter and engraver, and his brother Ralph Dodd, an engineer remembered uncharitably at the time for his failure to build a tunnel under the Thames.
William Dodd from Lincolnshire was an 18th century Anglican clergyman who lived extravagantly.  He was nicknamed the "macaroni parson."  In an effort to clear his debts, he dabbled in forgery, was caught, convicted, and, despite a public campaign for a royal pardon, became in 1777 the last person to be hanged at Tyburn for forgery.

Wales.   Charles Dodd was a schoolmaster in Wrexham in north Wales in late Victorian times.  He had three notable sons who each became highly prominent in their chosen academic field: A.H. Dodd the historian; C.H. Dodd the New Testament scholar and Protestant theologian; and P.W. Dodd the classicist.

Ireland.  The Dodd name was taken to Sligo in the 16th century by a Shropshire family.  Thomas Dodd of Sligo emigrated to Canada in the 1860's.  Successive members of the Dodd family lived in the Masonic Lodge in Sligo as its caretakers since its opening in 1895. 

In Ulster the Gaelic O'Dubhda sept sometimes adopted Dodd as the anglicized form of their name, instead of the more usual Dowd.  In 1890 the Dodd name in Ireland was principally to be found in Down and Armagh.

AmericaJohn Dods was one of Captain John Smith's original colonists at Jamestown in 1607 and one of only three who were still there in 1623.  His descendants in Virginia and West Virginia became Dodsons.

Another Southern Dodd family began with Michael Dodd who was born in Georgia in 1779 but migrated as a young man to Missouri and then to Arkansas.  David Dodd of this family was a 17 year old who was tried, convicted and hanged as a Confederate spy in the Civil War during the Union occupation of Little Rock.  To Southerners he was the boy martyr and boy hero of Arkansas.

The first Dodd to arrive in New England was probably James Dodd from Sussex, aged sixteen, onboard Winthrop's vessel the Abigail in 1635.  Daniel Dod from Suffolk came to Branford, Connecticut ten years later in 1645.  This family name changed to Dodd in the late 18th century. 

Irish.  Thomas Dodd was born in Connecticut in 1907 from grandparents who had immigrated from Ireland in the 1860's.   He was a lawyer who made his mark in the Nuremburg trials after World War Two and subsequently became Senator of Connecticut.  His son Christopher was to serve for five consecutive terms as Connecticut's Senator.

Canada.  Local tradition in Cape Breton has it that Archibald Dodd was born into a wealthy family in Northumberland.  But he came to Cape Breton in 1787 to escape a troubled past.  Although a divisive man in his manners, he would play a key role as a lawyer and a politician in the early history of Cape Breton, at that time a separate procince of Canada.  His son and grandson followed in his footsteps.

Australia.  William Dodd, a blacksmith from Warwickshire, was an early settler in South Australia, arriving there in 1839. Oral family history recalls that William had wanted to be a preacher but his parents were too poor to support him through ministerial training.  Two Dodd family bibles are treasured heirlooms of his descendants in Stansbury, South Australia. 

John Dodds came out with his parents from Durham in 1853.  They settled in Tasmania and John, who became a lawyer, rose to be the Chief Justice of the colony.

Select Dodd Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Dodd Names

Lottie Dod was, in 1887, the youngest woman ever to win the Wimbledon ladies tennis championship, at the age of fifteen.
Sonora Dodd was responsible for the founding of Father's Day in America in 1910. 
Johnny Dodds
was an acclaimed jazz clarinetist of the 1920's.
Thomas Dodd was US Senator for Connecticut in the 1950's during the McCarthy era.
Ken Dodd is a popular English comedian from Knotty Ash in Liverpool.

Select Dodds Today
  • 34,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 16,000 in America (most numerous in Texas) 
  • 19,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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